What challenge do you set yourself once you’ve successfully completed a marathon while pulling a Mini Cooper behind you?
Surely you would attempt the world’s most consecutive rope climbs, reaching the equivalent height of Mount Everest in under 24 hours. Or maybe you swim 126km across the open ocean, while towing a log behind you. But what challenge do you tackle when you’ve completed all of these super human feats? What can possible be next?
That was the conundrum facing turbo-athlete Ross Edgley earlier this year. The sports scientist, lecturer, fitness expert and overly qualified author of The World’s Fittest Book needed a new challenge, and he found it again in the ocean.
On June 1st, Edgley set out from Margate Harbour in the UK in a world first attempt to circumnavigate Britain, swimming entirely around the 3218km long coastline.
“[One of Edgley’s mates] mentioned the idea of swimming around the entirety of Britain – something that’s never been done before – and I thought, 'why not?',” explained Edgley to Redbull. “I also can’t write a book and call it The World's Fittest Book without being able to back it up in a big way!"
In our opinion, Edgley had already more than backed up this claim. In 2016, he completed the aforementioned ‘World’s Strongest Marathon’, pulling a 1400kg Mini and completing the marathon in 19 hours.
Edgley has continually pushed the boundaries of human endurance and explored the principles of fitness throughout his career, leading him onto incredible discoveries and the ability to draw upon ancient knowledge with a modern science backing. And whilst his challenges may seem ridiculous to the untrained eye, he has spent months, years, and decades refining his fitness and knowledge, allowing him reach physical peaks previously thought impossible.
All going to plan, Edgley hopes to complete the swim in 100 days, swimming in a clockwise direction, for 6 hours each day. He’s not allowed to touch the shore and will only stop to sleep and eat (his own rules).
“It’s the equivalent of swimming the English Channel every day,” explained Ross. "By looking at my swim metrics and comparing them to people who’d rowed around the entirety of Great Britain, I was able to estimate 100 days as a target. Oddly enough, in very bad conditions, my open water swimming times are the same as those of the rowers. A friend of mine named Sean Conway once swam the length of Great Britain in 135 days. I’m looking to do more than double that distance in less time."
Edgley is leaving nothing to chance on the swim, and has his nutrition, equipment, and support boat fitted out to a tee. An adventure of this size won’t be achieved by accident and Edgley is acutely aware of the dangers he’ll face, and has a solution for them all
"We’re doing it in the spirit of open water swimming – no buoyancy aids, gloves only needed during cold periods. The only advantage I’ll have is a collection of swim suits tailored for estimated weight loss, ranging from full Ross, to emaciated Ross 60 or so days in, when I’ll have shifted a few stone. “
In what might seem like a stroke of sea-sickness, Ross has even been supplementing his swimming with on-boat strength training, to maintain muscle mass and prevent atrophy.
“The reason for my supplementary strength training is to combat muscular atrophy (deterioration) similar to what astronauts experience that’s caused by days at sea doing a non-weight bearing sport,” Edgley explains in a recent Instagram caption.
In the same spirit as Edgley has approached his entire career, the adventure athlete seeks to inspire activity in others through this challenge.
"All going well, my challenge encourages people to do what they love and let Mother Nature take care of your physiology. It’s about being fit for purpose. From an aesthetic perceptive, at the end of the race will my body get on the front of a fitness magazine? Probably not, but will it be a body that will help you swim around Great Britain? I hope so."
With around 60 days left on his journey, we can’t wait to see the mission come full circle. And even more exciting, what Edgley takes on next.